Top 5 Tips on How To Take Criticism

A colleague of mine once suggested that based on the origins and etymology of the word 'criticism', a literal meaning in English was, 'to tear flesh'.

Now I found nothing on the web to support or diminish this idea but no matter, thinking about times when I had been criticised - and there were many - it had on occasion felt like I'd had a good old mauling - in fact, I'd felt battered and bruised!

First off though and one thing about criticism ... there are simply no positive connotations. People talk about 'constructive criticism' yet for me that's an oxymoron - it's just not possible to criticise constructively - end of.

The reason we react negatively to it? A cornerstone of human nature is our desire to 'look good' - it's one of our 'higher level' motivations - so anything that looks, smells, feels, or sounds like criticism is an immediate turn-off. We react poorly, often emotionally and sometimes we can even get angry.

Wait a second though! ... chances are the person criticising probably isn't even aware of the message they're sending out because if they did, they'd appreciate the negativity with which criticism is received and you know what, they wouldn't do it.

The best way for people to learn about any shortcomings is to get them to see them for themselves but hey, that can be the subject for another post. For now, let's concentrate on how we react to it, so here are some pointers for when you next hear what sounds like criticism;

1. Stay Positive

2. Dissect the criticism - what is actually being communicated?

3. Deconstruct the language to uncover any specific issues - is it simply a personal dig or is it our actions that are being questioned?

4. If it's our actions - something we've done or perhaps not done then how might we benefit here? What can we take from this? How does it add to our understanding of how we show up in the world? ... oh and finally ... What could/should we change?

5. If it's a personal dig, always remember that what someone else thinks of you is none of your business. Perhaps the most valuable advice of all time came from Eleanor Roosevelt when she declared, "No one can make you feel insignificant without your permission"

When we are able to overcome an initial emotional reaction to criticism and look beyond it, we may be able to identify something of value, something we can learn about ourselves that will benefit us and move us forward. From here we can decide what, if anything, we are going to do about it.

And the rest of it? Simply remember the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt and let it wash over you!!

image credit - Adobe CC